THE man who nearly claimed the Finn Olympic champion crown from Ben Ainslie at the London 2012 Games has praised his great rival.

Jonas Hogh-Christensen, of Denmark, said it was ‘immensely enjoyable’ to race against the world's greatest sailor and ‘almost beat him’'. He said: “There is no doubt Ben is the best sailor of modern times, to have the chance to race against him and almost beat him was a fantastic opportunity.”

When asked to compare Ainslie to the Denmark’s living legend Paul Elvstrom – who until yesterday was the world's most successful sailing Olympian, Hogh-Christensen said: “Paul's record is great.

“He won world championships in 15 different classes besides his four Olympic golds.

“The great thing about Paul was his sportsmanship and half the things we use on modern boats today he invented. No doubt Ben is the best sailor in the world right now across the classes, in that sense we can compare the two.

“What Ben has done today is a great achievement.”